Complete Glossary of Catholic Symbols

There is no doubt that the Latin cross (a lower-case T-shaped cross) is the most recognized catholic symbol in Christianity today. Over the centuries, many other signs, identifiers, and distinctive signs have represented the Christian faith.

Catholic symbols play a vital role as objects that can focus thoughts and prayers. They indicate the way through spiritual world, serve as a symbol of faith, teaching tools & help to understand the journey of complex philosophy.

What are the known Catholic Symbols?

From the earliest times, the concept of symbolism has prevailed in every culture, social structure, and religious system.  

This set of 10 catholic symbols includes drawings and descriptions of the most recognizable Christian symbols. These simple elements of everyday life invite us to reflect on the mysteries of our faith.

1. Crucifix

The crucifix is ​​a cross with the body of Jesus Christ on it. This is a very common Catholic symbol, usually placed on or above the altar to celebrate the Eucharist.

Catholic symbol Crucifix

What is the meaning of Crucifix?

The crucifix is ​​a symbol of sacrifice and atonement because according to the Bible, Jesus died for the sins of the world.

His crucifixion and his death absorbed systematic injustice, physical evil, violence, and other errors, and continued to do so for Catholics around the world.

Unlike other Christian denominations that only use the cross, crucifix is ​​a powerful symbol of Catholicism and represents the focus of the Catholic faith: Jesus died on the cross to redeem humanity.

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What are the words “INRI” Stand for on the Crucifix?

The cross is usually engraved with the letters “INRI” on the wood of the cross.

These letters are the abbreviations of the Latin words “Izas Nazareth, Rex Idaorum”, which means “Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews”.

These are the orders of the Jewish Roman governor Pontus Pilate to impose the death penalty. They wrote these words on the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified.

2. Cross

The most famous and universal symbol of Christianity is the cross. It can be found anywhere Christians exist. In Roman times, cross was a tool for torture & public humiliation, and criminals were sentenced to death on the cross.

Catholic symbol Cross

Although there are various forms of crosses, Latin crosses are made of two pieces of wood and cross each other to form four right angles.

The cross today represents Christ’s victory over sin and death by sacrificing his body on the cross.

What is the meaning of the Cross?

For Christians, the cross not only symbolizes the death of Jesus but also his resurrection.

Although the cross existed long before Christianity appeared, the story of Easter (that is, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ) made the cross one of the most well-known symbols in the world.

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The cross symbolizes sacrifice, pain, repentance, unity, and exclusion. These are just a few ways to explain the cross. Every Catholic imposes his meaning on this symbol of the year.

Followers of Christianity identify with the cross through these words of Jesus:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” ​​(Matthew 16:24, NIV)

3. Alpha and Omega

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Use them at different times during church years.

Alpha and Omega
Catholic symbol Alpha and Omega

Since the fourth century, Alpha and Omega are used as catholic symbols to express the faith of Orthodox Christians in the biblical evidence of God.

What is the meaning of Alpha and Omega?

In Revelation 22:13, Christ called himself Alpha and Omega. That is, the first and last. These two letters symbolize the fact that Christ is the beginning and end of everything.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty, I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:6, NIV)

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“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13, NIV)

This statement of Jesus is crucial to Catholics because it means that Jesus existed before it was created and will continue to exist throughout eternity.

Before anything was created, he was with God and therefore participated in the creation. Jesus was not created like God. He is eternal.

Therefore, as the Catholic symbol, Alpha and Omega symbolize the eternal nature of Jesus Christ and God.

4. The Sacred Heart

In Catholic Symbols, the “sacred heart” is usually depicted as a burning heart. It is usually illuminated by divine light, pierced (probably from a spear), surrounded by a crown of thorns, entangled by a cross, and bleeding.

Sacred Heart
Catholic symbol Sacred Heart

Sometimes it appears in the arms of Jesus Christ. Wounds, thorns, and blood represent the crucifixion of Jesus, and fire represents the transforming power of divine love.

What is the meaning of the Sacred Heart?

The Sacred Heart represents the physical heart of Jesus and the divine love. This is a pious dedication of Catholics around the world and includes Jesus’ long-term love and passion for humanity.

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The heart itself is a symbol of love. But the sacred heart pierced by thorns shows the depth of Jesus’ love. This shows that he is prepared to suffer and die for all, and his love is eternal.

5. IHS and Chi-Rho

IHS letters appear on ceremonial supplies, architectural plaques, tombstones, and holy objects. IHS is the abbreviation of Jesus in Greek, which is “IHΣΟΥΣ”.

IHS and Chi-Rho
Catholic symbol IHS and Chi-Rho

IHS is an ancient letter combination (or alphabetic symbol) of Jesus, whose history can be traced back to the first century. It is an abbreviation of the first three letters of the Greek word “Jesus” (iota = i + eta = h + sigma = s).

Chi-Rho is the oldest monogram (or alphabetic symbol) of Christ. Some people call this symbol “Christopher”, and its history can be traced back to the Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 AD).

What is the meaning of IHS and Chi-Rho?

The IHS scribe wrote a line or a line on the letter to indicate the abbreviation.

Sometimes it appears in the arms of Jesus Christ. Wounds, thorns, and the blood represent the crucifixion of Jesus, and fire represents the transforming power of divine love.

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The letters X and P are often used as another symbol of Christ. Chi (x = ch) and Rho (p = r) are the first three letters of “Christ” or “Christos” in Greek.

Although there are many variants of Chi-Rho, the most common one consists of the overlap of two letters and is often surrounded by a circle that becomes both a symbol of the universe and a symbol of the sun.

6. The Fish

Fish is one of the oldest catholic symbols. Catholics use it to identify themselves and each other when they are persecuted.

Catholic symbol Fish

It often appears in the Roman catacombs, a secret meeting place during which Catholics were persecuted because of the Roman faith.

What is the meaning of The Fish?

This fish is based on the Greek acronym for the initial letter representing Christ. To understand this symbol, you need to know the meaning of the acronym.

Fish is “Ichthus” in Greek, also an abbreviation for Jesus. The Latin “Iesous CHristos THeou Uios Soter” translates English into “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”.

Christ also called his apostles “human fishermen”, while the early Christian fathers called the believers “fish bones,” meaning “fish.”

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Christians also use fish as a symbol, because fish often appear in the ministry of Christ. They are the main content of a biblical diet, and fish are often mentioned in the gospel.

For example, in (Matthew 14:17), Christ multiplied two fish and five loaves of bread to feed 5000. Jesus said in (Mark 1:17): “Come, follow me … I will make you human fishermen.”

7. Fleur-de-Lis

Fleur-de-Lis is a stylized lily consisting of three petals bound together at its base. Lily has been used in many places throughout history.

Catholic symbol Fleur-de-Lis

It was previously a symbol depicted on the royal coat of arms of France (historically Catholic country) and has always represented divinity.

What is the meaning of Fleur-de-Lis?

In one interpretation, the flower is a symbol of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The whiteness and beauty of the lily symbolize the purity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

In another interpretation, the lily depicts the Holy Trinity, consisting of a father (God), a son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit or one of the three deities.

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The band holding the three pedals tightly represented Mary because it was she who brought the child of God.

8. Dove

The dove is a white bird, often depicted in the Catholic Church as flying gracefully in front of the glorious light. Sometimes, pigeons have olive branches on their beaks.

Catholic symbol Dove

What is the meaning of Dove as a catholic symbol?

Do you remember in Noah’s story, he sent a dove to find dry land after rain?

It returns from the Mount of Olives with olive branches, which is the sign and symbol of God’s forgiveness.

The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, according to Matthew 3:16 and Mark 1:10, doves landed on him.

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Doves are sometimes depicted as having olive branches in their mouths, symbolizing peace. It also symbolizes the grace of God.

9. Crossed Keys

In catholic symbols, a cross key (sometimes called a “key of heaven”) is a pair of overlapping and interlocking keys, forming an “X”.

Crossed Keys
Catholic symbol Crossed Keys

These keys are used as the coat of arms of the church, the coat of arms of the Pope, and the symbolic image in the Holy Land.

What is the meaning of Crossed Keys as a catholic symbol?

The crossed key represents the metaphorical key that Jesus promised to St. Peter, allowing him to take binding action to lead the establishment of Catholic Church.

In short, they are a symbol of papal authority. Jesus said to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew:

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I will give you the key to heaven. Everything you bind on the earth will be bound to heaven, and everything you bind on the earth will be bound to heaven.

St. Peter was the first pope, and all those who inherited him shared the power that Jesus gave him.

10. Sacrificial Lamb of God

The Lamb is one of the most important catholic symbols. It is mentioned that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, and this is always the case in the words of the people.

Catholic symbol Lamb

He was oppressed and pained, but he didn’t open his mouth. He was slaughtered like a lamb … (Isaiah 53: 7, NIV)

The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him and said to him, “Behold, the Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV)

They shouted loudly, “Salvation belongs to our God and Lamb sitting on the throne.” (Revelation 7:10, NIV)

What is the meaning of Lamb as a catholic symbol?

The white color of the lamb symbolizes innocence and purity. In the Old Testament, lambs are also often associated with sacrifice.

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Sacrificial Lamb Christ died because of human sin. The lamb can also symbolize obedience to God.

Lambs are sometimes portrayed with the national flag. This symbolizes that Christ defeated death in the resurrection.

11. Anchor and Cross

The anchor has always been a symbol of safety, hope, and safety because the main function of the anchor is to moor ships.

Anchor and Cross
Catholic symbol Anchor and Cross

The safety of a ship in certain dangerous waters may depend entirely on its ability to break down and stabilize the ship.

Early Christians combined the symbol of the anchor with the symbol of the cross and therefore declared that Christ and his passion for redemption were the only true security and the only way to heaven. Rise in various terror rule.

What is the meaning of Anchor and Cross as a catholic symbol?

The anchor and cross symbol is easy to draw. This simple exercise may have a concept rooted in our minds. When we are in trouble, we will be able to reawaken it to benefit our soul.

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It bears witness to the fact that Christ is the true anchor of the storm of life, true safety, and his cross.

The road of suffering, will eventually bring to all people, beyond all suffering. Hope for Christ (Hebrews 6:19) as the anchor of the soul.

The whole image brings back the memories and thoughts of the early apostles to the lives and experiences of the apostles and led many people to live the lives of fishermen, and because of Jesus calling them “human fishermen.” (St. Matthew 4.19).

In these rapidly changing times, we will reflect well on Christ as our anchor and our only hope.

12. Ship

Many of the early Church Fathers refer to the Barque, the ship of Peter, the symbol of the ship represents Holy Mother Church upon the high seas of life.

Catholic symbol Ship

What is the meaning of the Ship as a catholic symbol?

The ship is always on the journey, & it is the essence of the ship to have destination and purpose.

It will pass through many dangerous seas and pass many trials, but with Jesus (our compass), we will reach the eternal coast.

A good crew member will be loyal to their captain. No matter how hard and dangerous people are in the waterway, they will never give up the ship, and we don’t have to because she is our mother.

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Mary portrayed as the mother of God depicted as a ship, is also the image of the church.

13. Pelican

The Pelican in the catholic symbol is a depiction of charity and a symbol of the Eucharist.

Catholic symbol Pelican

What is the meaning of Pelican as a catholic symbol?

The symbol depicts a pelican tugs her breasts with her beak and then feeds her children with the blood flowing out. Therefore, it symbolizes Christ’s dedication to all mankind.

There is a tale according to Physiologus which states that:

“The Pelican is very fond of its brood, but when the young ones grow they begin to rebel against the male bird and provoke his anger so that he kills them, the mother returns to the nest in three days, sits on the dead birds, pours her blood over them, revives them, and they feed on her blood.”

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We are fed upon the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

The New Covenant of Love was written in the very Blood of Christ; how blessed we are, how blessed, to receive the very Blood of Christ, one single drop can wash us clean. Love HIM totally who has given Himself totally for you.

14. Lamp

In the time of Christ, the lamp was molded from clay. It was round and flat, with a pinched wick on one side and olive oil as fuel.

Catholic symbol Lamp

Once the lamp is lit, it is placed on a shelf, and it is no longer allowed to go out. It burns, bringing warmth and light to the house day and night.

It is also considered enlightened and can symbolize vigilance, prophecy, and the presence of God.

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This reminds people of the Jews of the Holy Gathering and therefore has profound religious significance.

What is the meaning of Lamp as a catholic symbol?

Lamps are symbolically used to represent the life & existence of the soul, whether in the living or the dead. The Romans are said to have kept lamps in certain tombs for centuries.

During the reign of Pope Paul III, one of the lamps was found in the tomb of Thuleya (daughter of Cicero), which has been closed for 1,550 years.

A lamp was discovered when the monastery was disbanded and is said to have been burning for 1,200 years. The Leiden Museum has kept two.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light of the universal world, and the light of our inner world. He is the light that darkness will never extinguish.

His words are the lamps leading to our way (Psalm 118). Light is a sign of hope, a sign that leads us to eternal light.

Light and light are closely related to this world, our earthly pilgrimage, we need the light of Christ to take us to the kingdom of blessing. Only when darkness falls, light is needed. Whether it is practical or spiritual, let us follow the light of Christ.

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One day, all flames will be extinguished, because the “solitary man” will become our light:

“Then he showed me the river of life, clear as crystal, gushing from the throne and the Lamb. The throne of God will be in the city and God’s people will live in His presence.

They will see His face and His name will be upon their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of lamp or sun for God Himself will be their light and they will reign forever.”

15. Crown of Laurels

Until today, laurels have played an important role in history. Laurel is an evergreen tree with large, oval hard leaves. The Greeks gave the winner a wreath & a crown (Stephanos) at the Pythian Games.

Crown of Laurels
Catholic symbol Crown of Laurels

The Romans gave the victorious general the crown of victory. São Paulo likens the spiritual journey and mission to the spiritual journey of runners at the Games.

What is the meaning of Lamp as a catholic symbol?

It is believed that the leaves used to make the laurel crown have physical and mental cleansing abilities. The laurel crown is also related to Victoria, which is known as the goddess of victory in Greek mythology.

In Christianity, it symbolizes victory and triumph, or more specifically, resurrection of Jesus, which will end all conflicts in this world and ultimately bring true peace. It is also mentioned in (1 Corinthians 9.24):

“Have you learned anything from the stadium? Many runs, but only one gets the prize. Run, therefore intending to win it, as athletes who impose on themselves a rigorous discipline. Yet for them, the wreath is of laurels that wither, while we run for a wreath that will never die.”

We have all seen the recent Olympic Games in Greece and elsewhere.

All participants must make efforts, but they always keep their goals in sight. Therefore, we also need to maintain our focus on Jesus and run to wait for our crown in heaven.


In this article, we have tried to shed light on catholic symbols as per Christianity, what are the signs, symbols, and what is the meaning associated with each of them.

For those who also want to get a deeper understanding of these catholic symbols, we have tried to decode each symbol individually. Also, the symbols are provided in this article which guides people in a way that allows them to lead a good life.

For those who have faith in God, should respect these symbols and hence will always be getting his grace.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What does the PX symbol mean in the Catholic Church?

It is X P. These are letters, but they are not from the Latin alphabet with which we write English. These are from the Greek alphabet. The two letters make up an abbreviation in the same way words are abbreviated in English. This abbreviation of a Greek word also uses the first two letters of the word.

Why do Catholics do the sign of the cross?

The sign of the cross is a prayer, a blessing, and a sacramental. As a sacramental, it prepares an individual to receive grace and disposes one to cooperate with it. The Christian begins the day, prayers, and activities with the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Why do Catholics worship Mary?

“Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.

Why do Catholics kneel?

Its purpose is to allow the worshiper to engage his whole person in acknowledging the presence of and to honor Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. It is customary to genuflect whenever one comes into or leaves the presence of the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle.

Why Catholics make a sign of the cross?

The sign of the cross is a prayer, a blessing, and a sacramental. As a sacramental, it prepares an individual to receive grace and disposes one to cooperate with it. The Christian begins the day, prayers, and activities with the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.